White ribbons sign of unity amid Seminole Heights murders

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A sign of unity is popping up across Seminole Heights following the unsolved murders of three people.

Neighbors are wrapping white ribbons around their trees to honor the three victims killed over the past two weeks and to show the community that they are standing together.

"It's a little way to show unity and to show people that we are always thinking about this," said Brian Frey, president of the Hampton Terrace Community Association.

Frey took on the task of launching the white ribbon project and solicited the help of his neighbor, Susan Lane to create more than 100 white ribbons for neighbors to wear during a community meeting held Monday night with Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the Tampa Police Department.

"I went to a local retail store, and I grabbed as much white ribbon as I could possibly grab," said Frey.

He said Lane, or "NaNa Susan," as she's known around the neighborhood, spent hours putting together the wearable ribbon pins on short notice, in order to hand them out to neighbors at the entrance of Monday's meeting.

Lane is a lifelong Seminole Heights resident. She grew up in the community and now lives in the home her grandfather built in 1940.

She said she has watched the neighborhood grow and change.

"In those days you could leave the door open and everything. Unfortunately, it's not like that anymore," said Lane.

Lane said what hasn't changed over the years is the strong sense of community that Seminole Heights neighbors share.

On each of the white ribbons, the letters M, B and A have been written in permanent marker. It represents Monica Hoffa, Benjamin Mitchell, and Anthony Naiboa, the three people found murdered.

"A couple people have already mentioned to me that it's very sad to see [the ribbons], but sometimes sadness is something we have to deal with," said Seminole Heights resident William Truett. "We had three people taken away so viciously from their families and from our community here, and we want to recognize them."

Neighbors have an annual pumpkin festival planned for Saturday, October 28, in the Hampton Terrace community. They said police will be present, but they have no plans to cancel the event out of fear.

"We are strong, we are resilient, and this is just another way of showing that we're not backing down. We're not going to allow this to rule the way that we live," said Frey.